Filing for an I-192 Waiver: "Forgiveness" of U.S. Inadmissibility

For immigrants who've been deemed "inadmissible", a waiver on Form I-192 can allow them entry into the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa.

You might have heard of Form I-192 or the concept of a waiver in U.S. immigration law. The waiver is generally a form of forgiveness given by U.S. immigration authorities to persons who are "inadmissible" under the law. Persons who have committed certain criminal acts, contracted certain communicable diseases, undertaken certain types of international offenses, or otherwise have specific types of events in their past can be considered "inadmissible" and barred from entering the United States.

Inadmissible people may ask U.S. immigration officials to "forgive" their inadmissibility and allow them to enter the United States. In other words, they can request a waiver. Form I-192 is an application for a specific type of waiver used by people wishing to enter the U.S. on a temporary, nonimmigrant basis.

Before you rush to the USCIS website to grab this form, you should know that only a narrow cross section of persons can benefit from it. First, you must be a nonimmigrant, meaning you must have no intent to permanently stay in the U.S. and you must return to your country of origin when your permitted U.S. stay is over. The scrutiny applied by immigration officials towards waiver applicants on nonimmigrant intent is extremely high. You are already asking the U.S. to forgive something for which immigration law would normally bar your entry; immigration officials will pore over your application, looking for any hints that you might intend to stay permanently.

Second, you must have valid U.S. entry documents already, be seeking T or U status, or be a full Canadian citizen in order to use Form I-192. This ordinarily means you must already have a valid U.S. visa in your passport or present compelling proof that you satisfy under the other qualifications.

Let’s take a look at these four possibilities in more detail.

Possessing Valid U.S. Entry Documents

You can apply for a waiver using Form I-192 if you already have a valid U.S. visa in your passport. This necessarily means that you must have applied for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Depending on the particular circumstances in your case, this could mean that you were still admissible at the time you applied for your visa or that, despite your inadmissibility, you convinced U.S. consular officials that you qualified for a visa.

The situations in which this could occur are too numerous to mention and beyond the scope of this article. However, one fairly common situation where this can occur is in cases of certain communicable diseases.

U.S. immigration law and regulations say that foreign nationals with certain communicable diseases are inadmissible. However, if you are seeking treatment for a medical condition and can demonstrate that the necessary treatment is available only in the United States, you might be able to apply for a waiver on Form I-192.

If you committed a crime that makes you inadmissible, it is possible that your visa has been electronically revoked, but not cancelled on its face. If you have received a notice of revocation, you no longer have a valid visa and cannot use the I-192.

If you already have valid entry documents but require an inadmissibility waiver, you can file Form I-192 with a designated port of U.S. entry, in advance of your travel. Applications can also be filed electronically. Contact an immigration attorney if you believe your case falls into this scenario.

Holding T Nonimmigrant Status

T nonimmigrant status is a particular immigration category accorded by the U.S. to victims of human trafficking. The law says that you can enter the U.S. in T status on a temporary, nonimmigrant basis if you can demonstrate that:

  • you are or had been forced or defrauded into sex trafficking, slavery, or similar involuntary servitude
  • you are physically in the U.S. or its territories because of such trafficking
  • you have reasonably complied with U.S. law enforcement to aid in the investigation and/or prosecution of human traffickers, and
  • you would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if you were to leave the U.S.

As you can see, you must have a narrow, and admittedly serious, set of circumstances to qualify for T status.

If you do qualify for T status but are otherwise inadmissible, you can file your petition for T nonimmigrant status and Form I-192 for a waiver with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Vermont Service Center.

You'd do best to contact an immigration attorney if you believe you qualify for T status. There are also nonprofit organizations that might be able to help you file your claim at low or no cost.

Holding U Nonimmigrant Status

U nonimmigrant status is similar to T status. It gives certain foreign nationals the ability to temporarily stay in the U.S. if they are victims of particularly serious crimes and can show that they:

  • have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of being the victim of certain serious crimes
  • have credible and reliable information and knowledge of the details of the crime
  • have been or are being helpful to U.S. law enforcement investigating that crime, and
  • the crime occurred in the U.S. or its territories.

Like T nonimmigrant status, U status is difficult to qualify for. You can file a U petition along with your Form I-192 waiver application with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. Contact an immigration attorney if you believe you qualify for U status. There are also nonprofit organizations that might be able to file your claim for low or no cost.

Being a Canadian Citizen

Full Canadian citizens do not require a U.S. visa or other entry document, aside from a valid Canadian passport, to enter the United States. However, Canadian citizens can still be inadmissible.

Broadly speaking, Canadian citizens seeking to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants can file Form I-192 with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a designated port of U.S. entry in advance of travel. Applications can also be filed electronically. If you are a Canadian citizen in this situation, you should file Form I-192 well in advance of any planned travel, as it can take six months or longer to receive a decision.

How to Prepare Form I-192

You are asking the U.S. to forgive something that would otherwise bar you from entry. Your Form I-192 should give compelling reasons, backed by strong evidence, that will convince U.S. immigration officials to grant you such a waiver.

The evidence you will need to submit with Form I-192 depends largely on why you are inadmissible in the first place.

For example, if you are inadmissible for a prior criminal conviction, you should submit a written statement explaining the crime and the details of your conviction. Also submit official court records, pleas, and other relevant documents. The officer adjudicating your waiver request will consider the severity of the crime, how much time has passed since your conviction, evidence of rehabilitation, and your reason for travel.

If applying for a waiver of medical inadmissibility, your statement should describe, in detail, your medical condition and why treatment can be found only in the United States. Also present any relevant medical records of your condition that can aid immigration officials in evaluating a waiver, and proof that you can pay for the treatment you will be receiving.

U.S. Government Filing Fees for I-192 Application

The filing fee charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the I-192 application is $930 (as of mid-2020).

If you are an inadmissible nonimmigrant already in possession of appropriate documents, you must file your I-192 application with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). You can pay with a check or money order made payable to "U.S. Customs and Border Protection," or with most major credit cards.

If you are an inadmissible applicant for either T or U nonimmigrant status, you must file your application at a USCIS service center and provide a check or money order made payable to the "Department of Homeland Security." Regardless of where you submit your application, the filing fee must be drawn from a U.S. financial institution. Unlike most applications requiring fingerprints, there is no separate biometrics fee for the I-192 application.

If you are filing an I-192 application as an inadmissible applicant for T or U nonimmigrant status, you might be eligible to receive a waiver of the USCIS filing fee for your I-192 application, by filing Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver with your I-192. Accompany this with supporting documents that show one or more of the following:

  • You are receiving a means-tested public benefit.
  • Your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and/or
  • You have a financial hardship situation you want considered, such as recent unemployment or high medical expenses.

There is no filing fee for Form I-912.

Attorney Fees

Attorney fees vary widely for filing I-192 applications, ranging from as little as five hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Some of the factors that will impact attorney fees include:

  • The specific facts of your case. If you have a complicated case that involves legal research and/or a lot of supporting documentation that is difficult to collect, you can expect a higher attorney fee.
  • Additional services. If you are an inadmissible applicant for T or U nonimmigrant status and you wish to have a lawyer help you prepare that application in addition to your I-192 application, it will likely cost you more.
  • The lawyer’s practice setting. Attorneys' fees depend in part on what type of office they practice in. If you retain a lawyer who works for a large national practice, expect to pay more than you might if you retained a lawyer in a solo or small-sized practice. You will pay significantly less if you are low-income and can find an attorney or a nonprofit organization that offers pro bono (free) or low-cost legal assistance, especially if you are filing an I-192 with a T or U visa application.

Consider talking to an immigration attorney, because the process and evidence necessary to successfully apply for these types of waivers can be complicated.

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